Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014 Dinner Grilled Steak and Baked Potato and Salad with Red Onions sautéed with lavender and honey

June 30, 2014   Dinner   Grilled Steak, Baked Potato, Red Onions sautéed with lavender and honey and salad

Tonight I had not special plan so I thawed out a steak to make an old Texas favorite; grilled bone in rib eye steak with a baked potato and salad.  Around 6:00 we picked the rest of the garlic in the garden and put it out to dry and I picked some of the lettuce growing in our yard, where the wind had blown seeds and it had grown and then some from the raised beds also. 

The wind came up so Suzette brought the lavender we had picked last weekend into the house and plucked the fragrant flowers off their stems.  Suzette wanted to cook some fresh lavender with onions, so I mined 2/3 of a medium red onion and Suzette sautéed that with the lavender and added a tablespoon of local honey to the pan after the onions had cooked for about ten minutes and begun to caramelize. 

I added olive oil and the juice of ½ of a lemon to my bottle of Cesar salad dressing.  At around 5:00 I had gone to Charlie and Susan’s house to discuss tomorrow night’s meal and borrowed three baking potatoes.  

When I returned home around 6:00 Suzette was at Home.  I punched holes in the potatoes and baked them on a cookie sheet for 1 hour in a 400˚ oven.

Suzette said she wanted a good wine with dinner so I went to the basement and grabbed a bottle of 2008 Wellington Mohrhardt Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon.  We like Mohrhardt Ridge Cabs a lot.  The have an elegant smooth taste and a full bodied grape flavor, which is a pretty good combination.  I opened the wine to let it breath for a few minutes and went to the garden and picked seven or eight stalks of chives for the potatoes.  I minced the chives and Suzette fetched the Latin American sour cream ($2.29/lb. at Pro’s Ranch Market) from the fridge.   I also made a bowl of guacamole by combining minced red onion, three cloves of fresh garlic, a dash of Herbs de Provence, a dash of lime flavored red chili sauce, and the juice of a lime.
Then we plated our plates with slices of steak garnished with the sautéed red onions, one half of a potato each, salad drizzled with Cesar salad dressing.  Suzette declared this dinner, “The best.”



After dinner I pitted and sliced cherries and added them to the PPI apricot and raspberry mixture left from Wednesday night’s cobbler.  I added the last 2 Tbsps. of PPI Prager Aria White Port and 2 Tbsps. of Grand Marnier to the fruit and put the fruit into the fridge to absorb the alcohol overnight.  The brandied fruit will be an ingredient to make Clafoutis for tomorrow night’s dinner with Charlie and Susan.


Bon Appétit

  

June 29, 2014 Shopping in Santa Fe 2nd Street Brewery and Harry’s Roadhouse

June 29, 2014  Shopping in Santa Fe    2nd Street Brewery and Harry’s Roadhouse

We had lax and bagels for breakfast and then drove to Santa Fe.  We stopped at the Flea but did not find anything usable for the house.

Then we stopped at Stephens Consignment.  Suzette and I both agreed upon six art glasses for $120.00 that we thought matched four that Suzette had bought long ago.  Then as we were paying I saw a picture on the wall that looked like an early Erin Currier.  I looked more closely and found that it was in fact an early Erin Currier (it had the original Parks Gallery label showing it was made in 2002) on the back of the picture and was priced at $575.00, which is a pretty good price, so I asked what the least they would take for the picture and the lady checked the computer and said, “$525.00”.  I bought it for $567.00 with tax.  We love her early work because there is usually much more intricate and creative collage on it than Erin’s more contemporary pieces that have much larger painted areas and the iconography is often Southeast Asian religious motifs that she collected in her early trips.  This 2002 work is no exception.  We have always liked Erin Currier's work and had purchased an early collage of a Reclining Buddha around 2002 at The Parks Gallery, which was the first piece we both instantly liked and purchased together that confirmed our shared similar love of art. 

 


After we loaded our new treasures into the car, we drove toward the consignment shop Suzette wanted to visit but on the way decided that the lax and bagel was not sitting well with us and we needed a beer, so at around 12:45 we drove to the 2nd Street Brewery.  I ordered a wine glass of fresh apple cider for $7.50, which I thought was a bit much, but there was a special on the brewery's Rail Runner pale ale, which Suzette wanted, for $3.50.  We also wanted to try their pulled pork so we ordered a sandwich with a side of onion rings and split it.

The pulled pork sandwich was delicious and contained not only a layer of pulled pork but also a layer of spicy jalapeno coleslaw in a halved Fano bun.  l loved the onion rings but was happy that we split an order of them because they do not love me as much as I love them.  Fat, salt and spice; all the things that go well with lots of beer.

We then drove to the White Swan building consignment shop where Suzette found an interesting white fiberglass wall decoration that had a high relief sculpture of a choir of angels that looked like an image from Ghiberti’s doors for the Duomo of Santa Maria de Fiore in Florence, Italy, which she bought for the door of the Education Building at the Center for Ageless Living..

We than drove to the Fine Arts Museum to see the Judy Chicago Retrospective and the travelling exhibit of early Santa Fe Artists.  I especially liked a large landscape from a private collection in Tennessee by B.J.O. Norfeldt with dark sheets of rain and we were surprised to find and enjoy a free concert in St. Francis Hall by the Santa Fe Wind Ensemble.

Around 4:30, after checking out the Donald Woodman photos and an exhibit of pinhole camera images at the New Mexico History Museum across the street from the Fine Arts Museum, we drove to Linda and T.R.’s house on Old Pecos Trail.  We were impressed by their wonderful house, much of which T.R. constructed and their extensive collection of mostly Moroccan architectural elements, rugs and pots that T.R. has collected over the last forty years.  After wonderful cocktails of fresh watermelon juice and Tito's Handmade Vodka and appetizers on their patio, we drove to Harry’s Roadhouse for dinner.  When we arrived, the Roadhouse was packed and we had to wait on the sunny front patio; but soon we were called and shown to a table on the shaded back patio.  

Harry's Roadhouse's menu was extensive but Suzette and I were not hungry for a big meal, so we decided to split a pizza and a salad.  I have been missing good mushrooms lately so I ordered the mushroom pizza with its slices of large portabella, oyster and white mushrooms and Suzette agreed to order the Hippie salad with butter lettuce, garbanzo beans, fried onion rings, beets and cucumbers with a Green Goddess Dressing.

Linda ordered pulled pork tacos and T.R. ordered a Hamburger.  The pizza and salad combination was pleasant, although the bottom of the pizza was a little scorched and blackened.  After dinner we returned to T.R. and Linda’s house for a Heineken beer before starting down the hill to Albuquerque at around 8:30.  

Harry’s Roadhouse is a favorite among Santa Feans because it is informal, inexpensive and offers moderately interesting food, prepared well.  Most of the dishes we ordered were in the $10.00 range and our entire meal with three drinks was $60.00 before tip.      

When we returned home, we got out Suzette’s art glass glasses and put her four old glasses beside the six new glasses.  The three short shot glasses are different but the three tall new cocktail glasses were indistinguishable from her other four glasses and we were forced to conclude that they were made by the same person, especially since the signatures on the bases of each seemed to match.   What an interesting day of purchases in which the new met the old in so many ways.




Bon Appétit      

Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014 Texas Roadhouse

June 27, 2014 Texas Roadhouse

Davida Simon came by in the afternoon and we discussed several legal matters.  Then around 4:45 Josefo called after attending an electrical seminar and they decided to go to dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, which is one of their favorite restaurants.  

They invited Suzette and me to join them for dinner. I called Suzette who was having her nails done and said she could meet us there at 5:15.  So I rode with Davida and when we arrived at 5:15 Josefo already had a booth, which was great because there were already folks waiting for a table. 

Texas Roadhouse is a concept restaurant originating in Indiana.  It strives to serve good quality food in large quantities at reasonable prices in a friendly atmosphere. For example, there is a small bucket of roasted and salted peanuts in the shell pot on the table and we ate a few handfuls while waiting for Suzette.  When Suzette arrived we ordered.  Davida ordered the 12 ounce sirloin, Josefo had NY Strip and we shared filet medallions, which turned out to be three small petit filets totaling about 16 ounces. The medallions also are served with a bowl of rice risotto and, upon request, a portabella mushroom sauce, which we requested.  Each dish receives two side dishes.  We ordered a baked sweet potato and salad.  The waiter was incredibly nice and brought Suzette a Cesar Salad and me a fresh garden salad with vinegar and oil.  The restaurant also serves fresh baked rolls.  Davida got a bowl of string beans and Josefo ordered a baked potato.  Josefo’s steak also came with a side of mushrooms and grilled onions,  He ordered a baked potato with all the fixin’s as one of his sides.  The Steakhouse brags about how it hand cuts its steaks.

Petit Filets with Baked Sweet Potato
Josefo's NY Strip with baked Potato and Sour Cream cheese and red onions

We all loved our steaks.  We found out during the meal that Josefo and Davida go to the Texas Steakhouse almost every week.  Davida and Josefo had left over steak and potato and grilled onions and we had leftover rice.  Davida ordered another order of rolls and two boxes and put the leftover food in one box and the rolls in the other box.  The waiter gladly brought us two boxes and a small container with a cover to take the beans home in because they had lots of juice and a plastic bag to put all of the leftover food into. 

The restaurant was packed.  Apparently lots of folks like a good steak with lots of side orders and reasonable prices.  Most entrées were in the $15.00 to $20.00 range.

We left happy and full.  Suzette thought the food was over salted or had used some MSG, but I did not, although later in the evening I did have some burps, like I had eaten some chemicals in the food.

To complement the wonderful down home cooking I had to have some PPI Raspberry and Apricot cobbler with vanilla ice cream later in the evening.    





Bon Appétit

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 25, 2014 Grilled Halibut, Couscous with chard, Hummus, Steamed Asparagus and Apricot and Raspberry cobbler.

June 25, 2014 Grilled Halibut, Couscous with chard, Hummus, Steamed Asparagus and Apricot and Raspberry cobbler. 

Luke met me at Taj Majal for lunch.  The lunch selection was great again. There was a new dish that Mr. Singh recommended which was chicken in a Jalfrazie curry sauce made with tomatoes, peppers and onions.  I found it to be very flavorful, but having a bit too much black pepper or chili for my taste, but I would think most New Mexicans who love chili would love it.  I also love the fact that Taj is now serving both garlic and regular naan.  Luke enjoyed a lunch of vegetarian dishes including a potato and squash curry and saag paneer with the special paneer cheese.

After lunch we went to Sprouts to shop for ingredients for dinner.  Luke had invited Tye and Pat for dinner and since Tye is a vegetarian, we bought soy and vegetable burgers and a cucumber and radish sprouts and pumpkin seeds to make hummus.  We also bought for the rest of us and future meals 2 one pound filets of fresh Mexican halibut, a bunch of asparagus, a bag of fresh red cherries, and a gallon of milk. 

When we arrived at home after shopping we found Suzette working at home.  She and Luke discussed the meal.  While I took a nap, Luke made a super hummus with canned garbanzos, sesame tahini, almonds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil and lemon and Suzette made a raspberry and apricot cobbler.
 
When I awoke at 6:00 Luke and I went to the garden and plucked five sprigs of parsley and Luke finished his hummus by blending in the parsley.  Suzette also made more approximately 60 oz. of simple syrup with equal parts sugar and water (about three cups of each).

We decided to cook the halibut in the fish rack that holds a fish in a steel clamped structure.  Suzette and I went to the garden and plucked and cut a basket full of chard and kale and five sprigs of tarragon.

I de-stemmed and cleaned the kale and chard for the couscous.  Then Suzette unclamped the fish frame and laid one filet of halibut skin side out on each side of the opened frame and she laid pads of butter and slices of lemon on one side and I laid sprigs of tarragon on the inside of the other filet on the other side of the frame and then we closed the frame to clamp the fish and stuffing ingredients in place.

At 7:00 Tye arrived and we made limeades and sat on the patio and nibbled hummus and corn chips.  Tye has graduated with a degree in literature and wants to become a writer and also has been paying his way through school by teaching disabled students.  I told him my Marques de Riscal Rueda story and then went to the fridge in the basement and fetched the Rueda and chilled it in the freezer for a few minutes. 

We started cooking around 7:15. 

CousCous

I heated 2 1/3 cups of water and added 3 Tbsps. of butter and 1/3 tsp. of salt.
When the water came to a boil I added the two cups of greens and after a minute the couscous and covered the pot and reduced the heat to a low simmer.  I made limeade for Tye and we talked with Luke and Suzette for a few minutes and Pat arrived and we made him a drink. 

Then I went back to the kitchen and the couscous was puffed up and ready.  I tossed it with a spoon to break up the lumps and left it covered while Suzette grilled the halibut on the propane grill for about ten minutes. One of the benefits of using a steel frame to grill fish is you can turn the frame and cook both sides evenly.  We steamed the asparagus and I took the béarnaise sauce from the fridge.  When the fish was ready Suzette plated up our plates with fish, asparagus and I put a dollop of béarnaise on each pile of asparagus and some couscous.  We moved out to the gazebo and sat and enjoyed the food with glasses of 2011 Marques de Riscal White Rueda.

After dinner we fetched the bottle of Prager Aria White port and drank small glasses of it with bowls of cobbler with vanilla ice cream. 

We enjoyed a pleasant evening’s conversation and food and wine.


Bon Appétit

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 23, 2014 Lunch Taj Mahal Dinner Grilled Swordfish Steak with steamed string beans and Béarnaise Sauce and Cod pasta

June 23, 2014 Lunch  Taj Mahal   Dinner  Grilled Swordfish Steak with steamed string beans and Béarnaise Sauce and Cod pasta

I had lunch with Aaron and Chuck at Taj Majal.  I loved the chicken Tikki Marsala and Saag and today there was fresh baked Garlic Culcha and our waiter served us cups of the mango custard with a sprinkle of colorful ground green pistachios on top.

When I arrived home after lunch I thawed a .6 lb. Swordfish steak I had bought at Sprouts last week for $8.99/lb., when I also bought fresh green beans for $1.99.  I like to pick the haricot vert from among the beans so these beans were lovely and still very fresh and crisp.

For dinner I suggested grilled swordfish and steamed string beans.  We were trying to decide what starch to add to the menu when Suzette suggested, “Let’s use up the PPI Cod spaghetti dish we had made last night.

So I de-stemmed he green beans and Suzette fried the pasta in a skillet with a bit of butter in its white wine sauce and then grilled the swordfish.  When the swordfish came off the grill we found out that it was not fully thawed so we had to put it in the microwave for a minute.  I had removed the Béarnaise Sauce from the fridge and warmed it on the stove by setting it between the steamer and the pasta skillet for five minutes. 

When the swordfish was fully cooked Suzette cut it into four pieces, piled a mound of pasta in each pasta bowl and leaned the pieces of swordfish filet against each other on top of the pasta and we each garnished our bowl with steamed string beans and then a dollop of béarnaise sauce on top of the string beans and the swordfish.
    
Swordfish has a slightly dry in texture and rather bland in flavor, so the Béarnaise Sauce gives it that bit of creaminess and tart flavor that moistens its texture and adds flavor to it.  The pasta dish included a sliced artichoke heart, roasted red bell pepper, Roma tomatoes, onion, garlic, and cod, so it was a pretty rich dish that enhanced the overall flavor of the dish also.


I fetched a bottle of 2013 Egerun Tempranillo Rosé (Total Wine $6.99) and we had a lovely meal under the gazebo by the pond in the garden.  The pasta tasted far better tonight, perhaps because its flavors had time to blend or perhaps because being sautéed in butter integrated its flavors. Any way it was great and far better than last night.  The Eguren rosé was fruity and slightly sweet, but with that hearty flavor of the tempranillo grape from the fields of northern Spain. 


I will mention it again because it is worth mentioning that you want to drink the youngest rosé available, because it loses its fruitiness quickly after it is bottled.  The freshest rosés available now are the 2013’s.

After dinner Suzette had a slice of her lovely apricot Tart with vanilla ice cream.  I had another glass of rosé and later a bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce.  


Bon Appétit

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 22, 2014 Lunch Cesar Salad Dinner Eggplant with Garlic Sauce and BBQ Pork and Apricot tart

June 22, 2014 Lunch  Cesar Salad   Dinner  Eggplant with Garlic Sauce and BBQ Pork and Apricot tart

We picked snow peas and fresh romaine lettuce in the morning and made a wonderful  Cesar Salad with fresh Romaine for lunch.  Suzette thawed out the cedar board grilled salmon and we had one of the best Cesar Salads, I have ever eaten, with soft delicious slightly lemon and dill flavored salmon and fresh blanched snow peas and peas from the garden with fresh romaine leaves and slices of Pecorino Romano cheese and a great Cesar dressing.





Also, we processed about fifteen pounds of Megan's apricots in the morning with a bit of the fresh honey from Suzette’s Center.  By the afternoon Suzette had filled eight 32 oz. yogurt containers with apricots ready for baking.  We had also sliced halves of apricots to make a tart.  Suzette made a  pie crust dough using an Epicurious recipe that utilized Riesling wine.  Here is the recipe:


After watching Portugal tie the U.S. tie in their game of the world cup, Suzette finished making the apricot tart and put it in the oven to bake.

We were not sure what to cook for dinner, Suzette was reluctant to cook, until I finally suggested that we make Suzette’s favorite Chinese dish, Eggplant with Garlic Sauce and use up the PPI BBQ pork flavored with Five Spice.  I peeled a 1 lb. American eggplant  and cut it into two inch long cubed slices. 
I then chopped 2 Tbsps. of fresh garlic and about 1 ½ lbs. of the PPI pork and ¾ of a green bell pepper.
Here is the recipe:

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce.

You first make the Sauce:

1 Tbsp. double dark soy sauce
2 tsp. Oyster Sauce
1 tsp. white rice wine vinegar
½ tsp. Shaoxing wine
½ tsp. pepper flakes from hot oil (we reduce this to avoid making the dish too spicy)
½ tsp. of cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp. of chicken stock

Suzette sautéed the eggplant and bell pepper until tender in heated peanut oil.  While Suzette was stir frying the eggplant strips (the recipe calls for deep frying the eggplant strips in 4 cups of peanut oil, but we never use that much oil).

After Suzette had cooked the eggplant and peppers, she stir fried the garlic and then added the BBQ pork.  
Then she returned the eggplants to the wok and stir fried it with the vegetable and meat mixture for a minute and then made a well in the middle of the ingredients and added the sauce and cooked the eggplant mixture for a minute or two while I was stir frying the vegetable dish. 

While Suzette stir fried the bell pepper and eggplant until soft, made the sauce and dish and heated the PPI rice for dinner, I blogged and went to the store to buy a ½ gallon of vanilla ice cream and a bunch of green onions and cut fresh roses from our garden.  I then was called by my brother but soon Suzette interrupted our conversation to mention that dinner was almost ready. 

We piled a mound of rice on each of our plates and then the eggplant dish.  The flavor was sensational, the combination of the five spice flavored pork enhanced by the fragrant sauce on the eggplant and the bell pepper made for a memorable dish.  A wonderful thing about cooking with PPIs is that often PPI enhanced recipes are better than the original recipe.


We poured glasses of Camino Real Riesling and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and enjoyed dinner while watching the new Lucy Liu Sherlock Holmes series, “Elementary”.


After dinner and the Elementary show, it seemed elementary that we should enjoy a glass of port with our dessert.  Suzette sliced the tart and laid a scoop of vanilla ice cream on each, while I poured out the last of the Mogrado Ruby Port ($5.99 at Trader Joe’s), which was only a ½ glass.


We took our desserts out to the garden table under the gazebo and ate and watched the braver doves fly to the bird bath in the middle of the garden to drink water and the clouds turn golden.  The quiet peacefulness was very relaxing after the hectic weekend Suzette had spent putting on her food event for 100 folks. 

Soon Suzette mentioned that she would like a little more port and suggested that we try the Prager port we had bought in Napa at the winery eight years ago.  I went to the basement and found a bottle of 2002 Aria White Port made with chardonnay grapes and opened it and brought it and a bowl of ice cubes to the table in the garden and we each enjoyed a lovely amber colored glass of the Aria with its tawny, nutty flavor.  We speculated about whether the tawny, nutty flavor was due entirely to the four years of aging done by Prager before bottling or in part from our eight years of cellaring the bottle in our cellar.  Anyway the wine had a rich tawny nutty flavor that is mentioned on the bottle notes, which also mention that Aria is the name of the Prager’s granddaughter.


Bon Appétit

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 21, 2014 Thyme to Eat Local Field to Food to Event at Center for Ageless Living

June 21, 2014 Thyme to Eat Local Field to Food to Event at Center for Ageless Living

If it is Midsummer’s Night it is time for the Center’s Filed to Food event.  Once a year SC, Inc. puts on a local ingredient and beverage meal to raise money of its programs.  For the last few years it has been raising money to build a hoop house so it can raise vegetables and herbs year round to provide fredh vegetables to house bound seniors in Valencia County through Meals on Wheels.



This year the four course meal included:

 Appetizers of homemade crackers spread with beef pate and thyme crackers spread with fresh goat cheese and a bit of apricot butter.

Salad of fresh garden greens with a Thyme vinaigrette with buffalo berries.  I have never had buffalo berries but they were foraged from a native tree located within a mile of the Center.  Very cool.

Entrees featured Roasted Chicken with an orange thyme glaze, Poached Rainbow trout served in a thyme cream sauce, and Gratin Risotto with Thyme and seasonal vegetables.

Dessert – last but not least were Marie Paul’s famous Belgium Waffles garnished with local fresh whipped cream and strawberries plus a thyme infused panna cotta topped with a sweet Thyme Tuille.

Beverages included white and red wines from Milagro from Corrales, Camino Real from Los Lunas, Gruet from Albuquerque  and Vivac in Dixon and beer from Sierra Blanco Brewery in Moriarty.
   
The evening was cool and filled with laughter and conversation and everyone seemed to enjoy their food and wine and beer.  I know I did.


Bon Appétizer

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 20, 2014 Lunch Hana Sushi Dinner Spaghetti with True Cod poached in tomato, onion, garlic asparagus, bell peppers capers, parsley and artichoke heart white wine sauce

June 20, 2014 Lunch Hana Sushi  Dinner Spaghetti with True Cod poached in tomato, onion, garlic asparagus, bell peppers capers, parsley and artichoke heart white wine sauce

Bill Turner and I walked to Hana Sushi for lunch.  Bill ordered the Sushi Bento Box ($10.95) and I ordered the grilled mackerel filet bento box ($7.95).  Each box came with different things.  We each were served bowls of miso soup and then I received a bowl of salad, while Bill’s salad was placed in his box.  Bill’s Bento had a large sushi roll wrapped and fried in seaweed, plus three gyozo .  Each of our boxes had an eggroll.  My box held a section of tempura with tempura fried slices of carrot, sweet potato, zucchini and a slice of onion and a fried shrimp.  The box also contained four pieces of sushi roll stuffed with an imitation fish paste and cream cheese and cucumber and a bit of wasabi and small pile of red pickled ginger and a slice of watermelon.  In another large section of the box was the grilled mackerel on a bed of stir fried onions and carrot sticks that was quite delicious and in another large section was a mound of rice molded into the inverted shape of a tea cup.  I loved lunch and felt like the kitchen at Hana Sushi had really improved, although I have always liked Hana Sushi’s food.

I had bought a .6 lb. filet of fresh true cod ($7.99/lb.) on Wednesday at Sprouts when I also bought some green beans ($1.99/lb.) and an eggplant ($1.25 each) and granola ($2.49/lb.). 

Cod is one of my least favorite fish because it has not distinct flavor, but it is perfect for combining with strong flavors, so tonight I decided to make it into a dish common to the Southwestern Basque area of France or France's Southern Provencal area with tomatoes, bell peppers, capers, parsley, onions and garlic.  I chopped up 1/3 onion, five or six cloves of garlic, 1/3 of a green bell pepper and added about 2 Tbsps. of roasted red peppers that Suzette had processed two or three weeks ago.  Then in another bowl I chopped four or five Rom tomatoes, fifteen thin sprigs of asparagus, and an artichoke heart, while Suzette boiled a handful of spaghetti.

 Suzette sautéed the sauce ingredients and then added some white wine and water from the boiled spaghetti to make the poaching medium and sauce, while I cut the cod into ¾ inch cubes and went to the garden and plucked about five stalks of Italian  flat leaf parsley and chopped the parsley into about ¼ cup of chopped parsley.

We then added the cod and parsley to the vegetable mixture and cooked the whole mixture covered for about ten minutes to cook everything together. I sliced several slices of Pecorino Romano cheese to garnish the dish with and we were ready to eat.
  
We toasted two slices of Fano baguette that we dipped into the sauce and poured glasses of the 2011 Pillastro Primitivo Terry and Nancy Lamm had brought to our dinner last weekend.  Its deep purple color was startling but its slightly sweet flavor complemented the slightly acidic combination of tomato and capers and the tanginess of the parsley.


I had blueberry and apricot cobbler with whipped cream for dessert.


Bon Appétit

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 17, 2014 Stuffed fried squash blossoms, grilled steak, asparagus and sautéed mushrooms

June 17, 2014  Stuffed fried squash blossoms, grilled steak, asparagus and sautéed mushrooms

Glory Be, we finally have prepared a whole new meal.  

When I came home from a dental appointment, I thawed a rib eye steak. When Suzette came home we had a discussion about what to cook.  I suggested that we had to use the squash blossoms I had bought at Pro’s Ranch market on Saturday.   As I was walking through the produce section last Saturday I ran into Claudie, the owner/chef of la Crêpe Michel in Old Town, with a basket filled with two bunches of squash blossoms.  I asked her how she fixed them and she said, “ fill them with goat cheese and coat them with a batter of egg whites and some flour, and fry them.”  That was good enough for me.  I thanked her and soon found the bundles of squash blossoms on an upper shelf among the other produce for $1.99 per bunch of about a dozen blossoms.  

I bought two bunches, thinking we could cook them for dinner for Saturday evening with Ricardo and Cynthia.  Only later did I realize that our menu for Saturday evening of Mediterranean apricot and chicken skewers was set and not amenable to fried squash blossoms.  So the squash blossoms sat in our fridge until tonight, when I practically demanded that we use them for dinner.  Suzette reluctantly agreed and said, “We need to tempura them.”  I said, “Okay, but Claudie said she uses egg whites and flour.”  Without further objection I got out a box of tempura batter mix.  The instructions were easy enough, 1 cup of tempura batter mix combined with 1 cup of water.  Soon I had prepared the batter in a mixing bowl. 

At Suzette’s comment that we needed a dipping sauce, I followed the recipe on the tempura box for a dipping sauce made with Mirin, soy sauce, and water, but I added some Japanese rice vinegar to give it a little zip.

Then I went to the garden to pick a stalk of oregano and several stalks of lavender flowers for the filling. 

Suzette washed and spun the squash blossoms, which caused their leaves to shatter a bit.  Then I tried to remove the style that sticks out of the middle of the blossom as Claudie had recommended, but broke more leaves.  Suzette put about ½ of a package of goat cheese into the Cuisinart with the oregano leaves and lavender flowers and a bit of salt and pureed them together with 1 Tbsp. of heavy cream.  Finally, I stopped trying to remove styles and let Suzette fill the blossoms.  Suzette then poured about 1/3 inch of canola oil into one of our deeper skillets and heated it.  She then dipped the blossoms into the tempura batter and dropped them into the hot oil.  They did not get very brown but did get very stiff when the batter fried and firmed.  



the egg batter coating
 We decided we needed to go back to the drawing board on the batter, and decided to follow Claudie’s instructions more closely.  Suzette broke two eggs and put the whites into a mixing bowl and I whipped them with a whisk into a soft peak.  Then we added about ¼ cup of tempura batter to the egg whites and whisked that together.  The egg and tempura batter made a much lighter and puffy batter and when we dipped the blossoms into the egg batter and fried them they produced a much softer textured coating.  But we did not like it either because it soaked up a lot of grease.  We still have some tempura batter mix and squash blossoms, so next time we will add about ½ cup of tempura batter to two eggs and we think that will produce a nearly perfect coating for the blossoms.  

Having dealt with the squash blossoms, we turned our attention to the rest of the meal.   I sliced about 2 cups of baby portobella mushrooms, some of which had been in the fridge several weeks and were showing their age, which means that the flesh of the mushrooms had darkened and they had become water logged.  I cut them up anyway and sliced several mushrooms from a new box of portobella mushrooms we had bought at Costco last week.

I then chopped up four or five cloves of fresh garlic we had harvested from our garden on Sunday and peeled and minced the PPI ½ shallot I found in the fridge.  When Suzette salted and peppered the steak and took it out to the grill, I melted about 1 ½ Tbsps. of butter in a non-stick skillet and added the garlic and shallots to the skillet as the butter melted and heated.  I stirred the garlic and shallots to coat them with butter and cooked them for a couple of minutes and then added the mushrooms and tossed them in the pan.  After a few more minutes when the mushrooms had given off their liquid and started to dry out I added about ¼ cup of Amontillado sherry to the mushrooms and let them cook at a low temperature.


I then cut the bases off ½ of the bunch of lovely young asparagus I had bought at Sprouts the other day for $1.98/lb. I then put them into the basket of our steamer and washed them off in the sink and filled the steamer with water to just under the level of the basket and put it on the stove. I fetched the pitcher half full of béarnaise sauce and placed it on the stove between the skillet full of mushrooms and the steamer so the béarnaise sauce would warm just enough to remove the refrigerator chill from it but not melt it.  

When Suzette flipped the steak for its last five minutes on the grill I started the steamer.  When Suzette brought the grilled steak into the kitchen I turned off the heat under the steamer and the mushrooms.  While she sliced the steak, I ran to the basement and grabbed a bottle of 2007 Wellington Vineyards Mohrhardt Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is one of the best bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon wine we have ever drunk.  It was $25.00 from Wellington’s Wine Club.  The Wellington Vineyard recently sold and I hope the new owners continue to produce this wine because I have never had a better Cabernet Sauvignon. Although I love the big fruity Stags Leap district Napa Valley’s Cabs, they lack the soft elegance of Wellington’s Mohrhardt Ridge cab.

   
We each filled a plate with mushrooms, slices of steak, asparagus and squash blossoms and dabbed spoonfuls of the now softened béarnaise sauce on the warm asparagus and steak, grabbed our glasses of wine and took them to the table on the patio and enjoyed dinner as we watched the evening sunlight brighten the plants in the raised bed garden area.

This was the best meal we have cooked in at least three days.  We both loved the super tender rib eye steak which was bought at Albertsons on sale for $8.99 per lb.  Albertsons sells USDA Choice beef for really good prices on sale.  


The tender young asparagus were cooked to perfection.  The squash blossoms were interesting.  The tempura ones were hard and the goat cheese mostly had dried up inside of them.  The egg batter ones were much better, softer with better coverage of the squash blossom, but we both agreed that the egg batter needed to be a little stiffer.  So next time we will use two egg whites and ½ cup of tempura batter and a bit of cream.    

This wonderful dinner was worth all the effort.


After dinner we still had 1/3 of the bottle of wine left so we decided to eat some cheese on toast with the last of the wine.  I went to the kitchen and sliced four slices of Fano baguette and toasted them and fetched the last of the Delice cheese (Costco).  The cheese was a little old and therefore had a higher acidity that did not complement the taste of the wine as well as the meat and other parts of the entrée. 

We enjoyed sipping the wine as we sat and watched the setting sunlight bathe the garden in golden light  and talked about the upcoming June 21 Field to Food event at the Center for Ageless Living this Saturday.  It should prove to be one of the best food events of the year, with its locally sourced gourmet food and local wines and Marie Paul’s Belgium waffles for dessert served with the basil flavored apricot butter made with the apricots we have been picking this week.  Marie Paul has been getting lots of local publicity lately because this is the fiftieth anniversary of her family’s introduction of Belgium Waffles to the U.S. at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. I will be pouring wine and beer again this year.  Viola.  We are getting excited.


Bon Appétit  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 16, 2014 Lunch at Vietnam 2000 Dinner PPI Five Spice Pork and Brussels Sprouts Casserole

June 16, 2014 Lunch at Vietnam 2000   Dinner  PPI Five Spice Pork and Brussels Sprouts Casserole

Luke and his friend and business partner, Lisa Levine, who founded and owns Maha Rose Center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, arrived at the airport today at 1:00 today.   

They are both devotees of the Hindu living saint, Amma, and were on their way to the New Mexico Amma convocation at Buffalo Thunder Resort north of Santa Fe this week.  

Luke wanted to go to Vietnam 2000 for lunch, which is near the airport. Luke and I ordered No. 21, warm rice vermicelli noodles on a bed of cool chopped lettuce, mung bean sprouts, basil and cilantro and cucumbers topped with pork filled deep fried eggrolls and char broiled pork.  Lisa ordered a small bowl of pho (beef broth) with sliced beef meatballs ($3.50) and No. 48 (a plate of rice sheets over sautéed mung bean sprouts and green onions, garnished with shrimp sausage and egg rolls and roasted crushed peanuts) both dishes come with a fish sauce to pour over and flavor and soak into the noodles to moisten them.  The waitress also brings me a small plate of extra herbs and bean sprouts that I garnish the dishes with.

Rice sheets with shrimp sausage and egg rolls and shirasha

No. 21 rice vermicelli with grilled prk and egg rolls

Luke ordered iced coffee and I passed on the coffee because I have been sort of alternating between hyper and lethargic lately.  Luke immediately said that Mercury is in retrograde and that is putting lots more iron into the atmosphere and weighing things down.   I later googled Maha Rose and saw that Luke and Lisa are both healers at the Maha Rose Center in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, NY.  In fact, Luke is the web designer for Maha Rose and largely responsible for its content and appearance and Lisa owns the Center and holds a master’s degree in acupuncture.  Luke holds several certifications in yoga and has studied and trained in yoga in India several times, as well as having graduated from Sarah Lawrence College.

After lunch we went home to transfer their grips to the mustang, which they are driving to the conference and allow them some time to rest and write some information into the Maha Rose website.  I am impressed with how they are approaching the running of Maha Rose as both a business and as a center for spiritual enlightenment and healing.

I took off early and watched the U.S. play Nigeria to an amazing 2-1 victory for the U.S. during which Suzette came home.  By the end of the game around 6:00 we both realized that we had enough PPI Five Spice Pork and Brussels sprouts casserole to cook a quick and delicious dinner, so we could watch Suzette’s ad for the Center for Ageless Living at the beginning of the Antique Roadshow at 7:00, so Suzette we de-stemmed about thirty snow peas we had plucked from our garden and sautéed them with the pork and casserole for about five minutes to heat the PPIs and lightly cook the snow peas, while I fetched a bottle of La Granja Tempranillo/Grenache blend Rioja red wine, and we had a great quick dinner.  

Suzette’s 15 second ad about the Center for Ageless Living is wonderful and will run at the beginning of each episode of the Antique Roadshow for a year.  Suzette loves the Roadshow and even went to see it live early in its history, when it still was produced in Boston.  Also, we attended the Antique Roadshow when it was last here in Albuquerque and will volunteer for the July session in Albuquerque this year.   It surely seems like my world is connected to the spiritual, healing world in lots of ways, at least today.


Bon Appétit

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 15, 2014 Lunch – Stone Crab Claws with Tartar sauce and jicama slaw Dinner – Five Spice Chinese BBQ Pork with a Brussels sprouts, onion, garlic, and potato casserole and Caprese salad and blueberry and apricot cobbler

June 15, 2014  Lunch – Stone Crab Claws with Tartar sauce and jicama slaw    Dinner – Five Spice Chinese BBQ Pork with a Brussels sprouts, onion, garlic, and potato casserole and Caprese salad and blueberry and apricot cobbler

We have been picking apricots almost daily.  We worked in the garden for a few minutes while the bacon for our usual bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches burned to a charred crisp on the stove.  Luckily we had picked lettuce for our sandwiches and remembered that I had bought Stone crab claws and so I made a Tartar sauce with mayo, lemon and pickle relish and minced shallots.

We also ate the rest of salad enhanced Jicama Slaw and the crab claws with a bottle of Leese Fitch Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma County California.





 At around 9:30 am we drove to the Railyard and walked through the booths.  Not much of interest but I did buy a bottle of Heidi’s Raspberry Ginger preserves for $7.00.

Railyard market
Then we went to Megan’s and picked another approximately five pounds of apricots and went home.
I pitted about ten pounds of apricots and put them in a large pot and Suzette added two cups of sugar and later I sliced about a dozen basil leaves from the garden and we added them to make herbed apricot butter.  So now we have four large jars and containers of basil flavored apricot butter.

I also cut up some more of the apricots for cobbler and bagged them.

At around 5:00 we started the Brussels Sprouts casserole.  

I de-stemmed about 1 lb. of Brussels Sprouts and then diced 1 brown onion and placed them in the large 15 by 10 inch pyrex baking dish.  We picked about five or six stalks of garlic in the garden and I peeled about fifteen cloves and put them into the casserole and bagged the rest of the cloves of garlic, then I picked about three stalks of sage, de-stemmed the leaves and sliced about ¼ cup of fresh sage leaves and added that to the casserole.  We still had a bit of room left so Suzette fetched three potatoes and I peeled them and diced them and added them to the casserole.  Suzette tossed the casserole ingredients with salt and olive oil and we placed it in a 350˚ oven to bake for 50 minutes and when it was baked garnished it with 1/2 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
 
Brussels Sprouts Casserole with grated cheese
Five Spice Pork 
While the casserole was cooking I cubed the PPI pork in Five Spice and chopped up about six or seven stalks of chives and sprinkled them onto the pork we were heating in the large skillet and dusted it with an extra pinch or two of Five Spice powder to refresh its flavor.  

Suzette made a Carpese Salad with sliced tomatoes (Sprouts $.98/lb.), slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (Costco) and more leaves of basil from the garden and then drizzled the salad with balsamic vinegar and Portuguese olive oil.

Caprese Salad before the dressing drizzle 

While the casserole was baking Suzette also made a cobbler with blueberries and the cubed apricots.

Jiffy Cobbler Recipe

Here is the recipe for the cobbler:



Mix in a small bowl
1 stick of butter melted in the baking dish
1 cup of flour
2 tsp. of baking powder
1/2 tsp. of salt
2/3 cup milk

Then pour into the baking dish and add 4 cups of fruit and bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.
cobbler ingredients ready for the oven
When the casserole was cooked and the pork heated Suzette put the cobbler into the oven at 350˚ and baked it for 35 minutes and then another 10 minutes to fully bake it to firm.

We took the casserole out of the oven and spooned pork onto plates and then casserole and took the Caprese Salad to the gazebo and ate a lovely dinner by the pond with glasses of 2013 Pinot Noir Rosé from D’Autrefois in Pays D’ Oc (from the south of France, near Aix en Provence).


After dinner Melissa cleared the table of the dinner dishes and soon returned with bowls of warm cobbler garnished with dollops of the stiff whipped cream Suzette had made for Saturday night’s dessert of berry shortbread cups filled with berries.

Another hearty but easy meal made with a PPI ingredient, after a leisurely day spent foraging, chopping and cooking.

Bon Appétit 

June 13, 2014 Lunch, Rio Chama Brewery and Dinner, Jennifer James 101

June 13, 2014 Lunch, Rio Chama Brewery and Dinner, Jennifer James 101

I took salad fixings to a corporate meeting of one of my clients in the morning but discovered when I arrived that they were ordering food from Rio Chama Brewery, so in the spirit of the occasion I ordered Fish and Chips.  When lunch arrived my box contained three large battered and deep fried sticks of fresh cod and a pile of skin on cut fried potatoes.  I loved it because it was a pleasant change from my usual salad for lunch.  I left the salad with Ioanna for her and Rick to enjoy and she was gracious enough to allow me to bag and take the assortment of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and fresh cherries she had picked from her cherry tree in her yard.  After the meeting I went to Sprouts and bought a swordfish filet, some asparagus, and fresh ripe tomatoes.

When I got home from the meeting around 3:00 I made myself a dessert with the fresh berries on a cognac and Grand Marnier soaked shortcake shell topped with a dollop of fresh heavy cream and a spritz of canned whipped cream.


Later Melissa offered to take us out to dinner and Suzette and Melissa decided on Jennifer James 101.  

Usually I would be excited to go but tonight was game five of the Stanley Cup Finals and I knew since the series was returning to L.A. that there was a very good chance that L.A. Kings would take the series tonight because L.A. has proven to be the faster, stronger and more opportunistic team, so I wanted to be glued to the T.V.

We decided on an 8:15 reservation, so after the second period we left for the restaurant.  Suzette knew how much I wanted to see the game so she found an app on the I phone that fed a live feed of the game.  I had the joy of enjoying dinner with the girls and watching the game on Suzette’s I Phone at the same time, so I could be conversational, eat delicious food and watch the progress of the game.  

I like the concept that Jennifer James has adopted for her new restaurant. Clean fresh food prepared with great care.  The portions are not large but the food tastes great and is often interesting and well executed.  

When we were seated the waiter brought us a small ramekin filled with thin slices of house made bread and butter pickles that were deliciously sweet and sour.


We ordered several appetizers, fried garbanzo bean sticks, lamb meat balls, the garbanzo fried sticks were a little odd and I did not find them particularly interesting, but the lamb balls served with shredded fresh arugula and pine nut slaw with a really delicious tzatziki sauce.   I liked the sauce so much that I asked for a piece of bread after the appetizers were served and when we were each served a thick slice of warm bread with butter, I dipped pieces of bread into the tzatziki and enjoyed the warm bread with the olive oil, yogurt and mint sauce.  There was no fattiness in the Dunhill meatballs and with the fresh shredded arugula reinforced my overall impression that the food that Jennifer James 101 cooks is clean and fresh without a lot of starches and carbohydrates, which is saying a lot in the current world of dining that is dominated by U.S. Foods and Sysco generated entrees.  


Suzette ordered the halibut served with sautéed fennel, but they had sold out of it so, she ordered the pork tenderloin with radish and pork jowls in an orange chili vinaigrette.  Suzette must have been disappointed and she did not recall her dish being memorable, but when I tried the pork tender, it was perfectly cooked and delicious, grey on the outside and pink in the middle.  I especially liked combining bits of the crispy sauteed pork jowls with the succulent tender pork tender.  



Melissa ordered the JJ101 Cheese Burger served on a toasted English muffin with house made chipotle ketchup and fries.


With promises of sharing their entrees, I ordered an appetizer of quinoa and chopped vegetable salad with feta, golden raisins and olives.  I liked the cool blanched quinoa and vegetables.  The salad although only about four inches across and 1 ½ inches high proved to be very filling.  I also liked the South America meets Mediterranean concept. 


Initially we had trouble finding a wine until I noticed on the single glass menu “Elk Cove” Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley for $42.00 for a bottle (I paid $17.30 for this bottle in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, so the wines are marked up a bit over 2 times).  Melissa had never had it so we ordered it and she liked it a lot.  I think Elk Cove is the best Pinot Gris made in the U.S.  


Melissa shared a piece of her hamburger with me and it was remarkably good.  The meat was soft and cooked to medium rare.  I had had so many French fries for lunch that I did not try any of hers.

 I liked the meal a lot and would go back, but the most interesting thing was the hamburger place next door.  I will go there soon also.  What I had hoped for happened.  L.A. tied the game at 2-2 and sent the game into overtime, so we passed on dessert and went home to watch L.A. win the Stanley Cup in the second overtime.

Bon Appétit

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 14, 2014 New Recipe: Chicken and apricot skewers, fried rice, jicama salad shortcake fruit desserts

June 14, 2014 New Recipe: Chicken and apricot skewers, fried rice, jicama salad shortcake fruit desserts

We invited Cynthia and Ricardo for dinner tonight.  Melissa searched the internet for a recipe that included chicken and apricots to use the fresh apricots, since we had picked lots of them from Megan’s tree and found a Thai recipe using coconut milk, jalapeno and yogurt marinade and grilling the chicken with the apricots on skewers.  Here is the recipe:







I had a can of coconut milk but not many of the other ingredients, so I went to Trader Joe’s on Saturday morning and bought European yogurt. creamy peanut butter, boneless organic chicken thigh meat, and 8 artichokes.  Then I drove to Total Wine and bought three bottles of 2013 D’Auberbois rosé and three bottles of Marques de Riscal Rueda and a bottle of Anjou rosé.  Then I drove to Pro’s Ranch market and bought limes, squash blossoms, a couple of jalapeno’s ($.67/lb.) and cilantro.

When I arrived home Melissa said we should make the marinade and start the chicken marinating.  She cut the chicken into large cubes and chopped up the jalapenos. Because of the large amount of chicken, we doubled the recipe.  We added the first six ingredients as the recipe directed into the Waring blender and pulsed them (the coconut milk, yogurt, peanut butter, garlic, lime juice, light brown sugar).  Then we added the cilantro and jalapenos and pulsed them together.  The mixture seemed to be missing something so I looked in our Thai cookbook and realized that the sauce was missing that salty pungent flavor of fish sauce. I added about 2 Tbsps. of fish sauce and a bit more lime juice and the sauce took on a completely different and more wonderful flavor.  We then put the chicken cubes in a gallon freezer bag with about 2/3 of the marinade and put the rest into a container for a dipping sauce for the grilled skewers.
I also boiled the artichokes for fifty minutes and left them on the stove in the water.

Later in the afternoon I talked to Cynthia and she said she had made some jicama slaw last night so we decided they would bring the jicama slaw and a bottle of white Bordeaux wine.

I had picked up a lot of berries yesterday, at a meeting and then stopped at Sprouts and bought shortbread cups.  On Thursday evening we had picked up blueberries and raspberries at Costco and container of whipping cream, so I told Cynthia we would prepare a berry dessert and the menu was set.  Except I had a nagging feeling we needed a starch.  I had PPI boiled rice in the fridge in the garage and so I decided to make fried rice.  We decided to grill the artichokes.  So, we needed a dipping sauce for the artichokes, also.
Suzette had a huge Father’s Day celebration at the Center for Ageless Living in Los Lunas, but I went down for a nap at 3:20 and Suzette followed shortly when she arrived home.

We went to the kitchen at 5:00 to start cooking.  I pitted and cut in half 18 apricots and chopped up the rest for cobbler.  Then I made the artichoke dipping sauce with about ¼ cup of chopped fresh dill, about 2/3 cup of mayonnaise and the juice of 1 lemon and a pinch of salt.  I cut the artichokes in half and paid them into a pyrex baking dish into which Suzette had poured some olive oil and a bit of sea salt to coat the artichokes with oil.

Then I started on the fried rice.  Suzette made an egg pancake with two eggs, while I sliced three green onions, six or seven stalks of old asparagus. four or five fresh shitake mushrooms, and 1 Tbsp. of fresh ginger.  Melissa chopped up the PPI grilled scapes that had been stored in the rice pot.

Suzette and Melissa soaked the eight bamboos we had in water.  When Cynthia came she brought additional skewers and Melissa skewered the marinated chicken cubes and apricots using two skewers for each brochette so they could be flipped easily.

Ricardo made us all wonderful mojitos and we walked around the garden so Cynthia, the landscape architect would inspect.
 
We then returned to the kitchen and Suzette cooked the egg pancake I started the rice with some of the peanut oil that Suzette had used in the wok to cook the egg pancake and added some sesame oil and chili oil and then the chopped asparagus and then the mushrooms and scapes and ginger.  I then added about two cups of cooked rice and cubed the egg pancake and added dashes of Chinese cooking wine, rice vinegar, and sweet soy sauce, and then turned off the heat while Suzette and Melissa grilled the chicken skewers and basted them with the marinade and then grilled the artichokes on the upper rack of the grill so they would not burn.

Cynthia’s jicama slaw included julienned jicama, carrots, and red cabbage in a light dressing of vinegar, cumin, and sugar.

The skewers were to be garnished with roasted peanuts and cilantro sprigs, but I could not find the raw peanuts.  Suzette suggested that we use piñon nuts, so I heated about ¼ cup of piñon nuts in a dry skillet until they were toasted to brown and Melissa tore cilantro leaves from the stalks and we garnished the grilled skewers We put the artichoke dipping sauce and the chicken dipping sauce into bowls and put them on the table and I heated the fried rice and after Melissa garnished we were ready to eat.  I opened the bottle of Mouton Cadet that Cynthia and Ricardo brought and put the fried rice into a bowl and the skewers on a platter and Cynthia’s bowl of jicama slaw and Suzette set the table and we were ready to eat.

 
Needless to say, we all enjoyed dinner the Thai flavored chicken and fresh poached apricots were delicious.  The slaw was a perfect complement and like a Thai cold salad and the fried rice was surprisingly good, with its combination of garlic scapes, asparagus, egg, shitake mushroom, and green onion.

After we drank the Bordeaux, I poured a bottle of 2011 Marques de Riscal Rueda and everyone liked it also. Several days ago i discussed the history of Rueda and how Riscal, almost single handed, created the Denominacion de Origen for this new wine district in the upper Duero Valley in Spain.  It is a great story about how tradition, recognition of quality strong international brand acceptance and distribution and political stroke combined in a good way to create something wonderful; putting this wonderful new white wine on our table for $11.99 a bottle (Total Wine).



After we ate all of the food and sat for a bit to finish the Rueda, we all returned to the kitchen everyone went into action to create our dessert.  Melissa washed the pots and cooking gear and loaded the dish washer while I plated up the shortcake cups and drizzled Grand Marnier and cognac into each cup and Ricardo and Cynthia cut up the strawberries and pitted the fresh picked cherries from Ioanna's tree and filled a large bowl with raspberries, blueberries, cherries, and strawberries and Cynthia added honey and lemon to the fruit, while Suzette made stiff fresh whipped cream with heavy cream, powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla.  I fetched a bottle of La Granja Cava (a bargain at $7.99 at Trader Joe's) and Suzette fetched champagne glasses and we returned to the table and ate a lovely dessert and sipped champagne.  Cava does not have the complexity of French champagne with its characteristic mixture of chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and pinot noir grapes, but its lack of complexity was exactly what I wanted to allow the intense fruit, cognac, cream flavors dominate the dessert course  and  went perfectly with  as the conversation flowed until 10:30 when we all said goodnight.

Here is some more wikipedia info on Cava:
Cava (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈkaβə], plural caves) sparkling wine of Denominación de Origen (DO) status, most of which is produced in Catalonia. It may be white (blanco) or rosé (rosado). The macabeu, parellada and xarel·lo are the most popular and traditional grape varieties for producing cava.[1] Only wines produced in the champenoise traditional method may be labelled cavas, those produced by other processes may only be called "sparkling wines" (vinos espumosos). About 95% of all cava is produced in the Penedès area in Catalonia, with the village of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia being home to many of Spain's largest production houses.[2] 


Bon Appétit